How to file for elective office
General filing information
A candidate who desires to have his or her name printed on the ballot for election to an office other than President of the United States and Vice President of the United States, shall complete and file a Declaration of Candidacy. A person filing a Declaration of Candidacy for an office shall, at the time of filing, possess the qualifications specified by law for persons who may be elected to the office. The candidate must be properly registered to vote in the geographic area, district and/or division represented by the office at the time of filing. The officer with whom declarations are filed shall review each declaration for compliance with this law. (Reference RCW 29A.24)
When filing for an office, no candidate may use a nickname that denotes present or past occupation or military rank, use a nickname that denotes the candidate's position on issues or political affiliation, or use a nickname designed to intentionally mislead voters. (Reference RCW 29A.24)
For partisan races, candidates may indicate a political party preference on the Declaration of Candidacy, or select no party preference; a candidate’s preference will apply to both the primary and general elections. No nomination or endorsement by a party either before or after filing is required. Major political parties may not prevent a candidate from expressing a preference for their party. Candidates need only to file a Declaration of Candidacy and pay a filing fee, if applicable, to appear on the ballot.
Once filed, a declaration of candidacy may not be altered. If the candidate decides during the filing period to change the declaration of candidacy, the candidate must first withdraw and then re-file.
A candidate's name shall not appear more than once upon a ballot. (Reference RCW 29A.36.201).
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When to file
Candidates cannot file with King County Elections to appear on the ballot prior to the candidate filing dates noted below.
The filing period begins the Monday two weeks before Memorial Day and ends the following Friday. All declarations of candidacy must be received before the close of business on the last day of the filing period. Declarations of candidacy received after this date, regardless of the postmark, are invalid.
Mailed declarations of candidacy may be submitted in advance up to ten business days before the filing period begins. Declarations of candidacy filed in person must be during business hours.
Online: May 13, 9:00 a.m. - May 17, 2013, 4:00 p.m.
Filings made online for regular candidates may begin at 9 a.m. the first day of the filing period and continue through 4 p.m. the last day of the filing period.
In-person: May 13 – May 17, 2013, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Filing opens Monday, May 13 at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 17, 2013 at the King County Elections office, 919 SW Grady Way, Renton WA 98057.
Mail: April 29 – May 17, 2013
Filings made by mail must be received by the filing officer not earlier than 10 working days before the first day of filing or no later than the close of business on the last day of the filing period, irrespective of postmark. Failure to meet the deadline renders the filing invalid and it will be returned.
If you lack the sufficient funds to pay the filing fee and are submitting the filing fee petition in lieu of the filing fee, you must file in person at King County Elections. If payment of a fee is required, the electronic filing is not complete until the fee is received. (Reference RCW 29A.24 and WAC 434-208-060)
Lot drawing: Approximately 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, 2013
Lot drawings to determine ballot placement will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m. on the last day of filing. All candidates are invited to observe.
Lot drawings for congressional, statewide, and legislative offices will be conducted by the Office of the Secretary of State.
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Where to file
If the office sought is federal or statewide, or if it is a legislative, court of appeals, or superior court office that includes more than one county, the candidate would file with the Office of the Secretary of State. The candidate may file with the Secretary of State online or in person.
Offices that file with the Secretary of State:
- President/Vice President
- US Senators
- US Representatives
- State Offices
- State Supreme Court
- State Senators & Representatives for Legislative Districts 1, 30, 31, 32 and 39
All other offices file with King County Elections. Candidates may file with King County Elections by mail, in person, or online.
Offices that file with King County Elections:
- State Senators & State Representatives for Legislative Districts 5, 11, 33, 34, 36, 37, 41, 43, 45, 46, 47 and 48
- King County Offices
- Superior Court
- District Courts
- Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1
- Municipal Courts
- Cities & Towns (City of Milton files in Pierce County)
- Schools (Fife School District No. 417 files in Pierce County)
- Special Purpose Districts where the majority of registered voters are in King County (Snoqualmie Pass Fire District and Snoqualmie Pass Utility District files in Kittitas County)
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Cost to file
The filing fee is nonrefundable.
Filing fees or filing fee petitions must accompany the declaration of candidacy at the time of filing. The filing fee, as described below, is based on the salary in effect at the time of filing.
- A filing fee equal to 1% of the annual salary of the office at the time of filing shall accompany each Declaration of Candidacy for any office with an annual salary of more than $1,000.
- A filing fee of $10 will be charged for offices with annual salaries under $1,000.
- A filing fee is not charged for offices without a fixed annual salary.
Candidates without sufficient assets or income to pay the filing fee may instead submit a filing fee petition that contains the valid signatures of registered voters from their jurisdiction equal to the dollar amount of the filing fee.
The petition must be completed and submitted to King County Elections no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday of filing week. Petitions may not be submitted at a later date for a refund of the filing fee. A candidate submitting a filing fee petition must submit all signatures when filing the declaration of candidacy. The candidate cannot supplement the signatures at a later date. Petitions cannot be combined with money to make up the filing fee. Blank petition forms are available online. (Reference RCW 29A.24)
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Withdrawal of filing
A candidate may withdraw by submitting a signed request that their name not be printed on the ballot no later than Monday, May 20, 2013, at 4:30 p.m., regardless of postmark. A withdrawal of candidacy form (pdf) is available online. There shall be no withdrawal period for Declarations of Candidacy filed during special filing periods. Filing fees are not refundable.
Once filed, a Declaration of Candidacy may not be altered. If a candidate decides during the filing period to change the Declaration of Candidacy, the candidate must first withdraw and then re-file.
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Any person desiring to be a write-in candidate may file a Declaration of Write-in Candidacy with the officer noted in the Where to file section above. Declarations of write-in candidacy must be accompanied by the filing fee (if any) in the same manner as required of other candidates filing for office. Declarations of Write-in Candidacy must be received no later than July 19, 2013, at 4:30 p.m. for the August 6, 2013, primary election and no later than October 18, 2013, at 4:30 p.m. for the November 5, 2013, General election.
Votes cast for write-in candidates who have filed such declarations, need only specify the name of the candidate in the appropriate location on the ballot in order to be counted. Write-in votes will not be tallied unless the number of write-in votes could make a difference in the results for a specific race. In that case, the number of votes for each write-in candidate for that race must be tabulated (whether a declaration of write-in candidacy has been filed or not.)
No person may file as a write-in candidate where: at a General Election, the person attempting to file either filed as a write-in candidate for the same office at the preceding Primary or the person's name appeared on the ballot for the same office at the preceding Primary; the person attempting to file as a write-in candidate has already filed a valid write-in declaration for that Primary or election; the name of the person attempting to file already appears on the ballot as a candidate for another office.
The declaration of write-in candidacy shall be similar to that required by RCW 29A.24.031. No write-in candidate filing under RCW 29A.24.311 may be included in any voter's pamphlet produced under chapter 29A.32 RCW unless that candidate qualifies to have his or her name printed on the General Election ballot. (Reference RCW 29A.32.311)
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